Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Nancy Merrill’s A photo a Week Challenge: Yellow

If this challenge were later in the year I’d have all sorts of yellow forests to share with you. But, given this is mid-August, I’ll just scour the backyard and see what I can come up with.

Of course there’s always these hungry guys.

You’re interrupting my lunch , lady!

And over in the zinnia garden there’s this moth…

A moth shows off his pretty colors while sitting on a yellow zinnia.

…and as I was focused on the moth, this butterfly showed up.

Never lighting on any particular flower for long it was hard to capture his image.

It’s also the Dream Cruise weekend here, where hundreds of vintage cars are driving up and down Woodward Avenue. There’s a bit of yellow over there too.

They don’t make cars like this anymore.

In fact, if I looked through my files there’s probably way more yellow then I imagine. But let’s just focus on the yellow of late summer.

It’s a special time of year.

Sunflowers in August flaunt their yellow.


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The last long run

The title of this post might be misleading for any number of reasons. Today’s run/walk was probably not the last long run I’ll ever do, and frankly there wasn’t all that much running involved.

But I have the much anticipated (at least by me) Crim race next Saturday, and today was my last long training run in preparation for actually accomplishing the ten hot and hilly miles next weekend.

Pontoon boats waiting for the weekenders to descend.

It’s not as though I’ve been training methodically. Or even with a plan. I just tried to run longer once a week than I did the week before. And I tried to get out there one or two other times during the week to do 3 or 4 miles.

Moving in formation away from the noisy, gasping, foot slapping runner.

And even then it wasn’t really running like I remember from the days when I was young. It was shuffle along for a quarter mile, gasp for air and walk at least part if not all of the next quarter, then pick up the speed and shuffle along again.

And if there was a big uphill, then all bets are off and walking was totally acceptable. Unless I wanted to prove something to myself, in which case I sometimes shuffled to the top just to say I could.

But not generally.

Riding a bike looked infinitely more fun.

This morning I did my last long run/walk at my favorite park. It’s where I used to run long every weekend, often meeting one or more of my running friends to talk and run together.

Along the familiar route today I’d remember things from previous runs. A running partner with a frozen water supply line here, a couple of dancing cranes there, the spot that Katie rested before we headed back to the car on one of our walks.

Very tall water lillies. I need to come back here with the good camera and maybe a kayak.

And sometime during mile 7 as I was slogging up a little hill to round the flagpole, ensuring my total would be ten miles because I added that ‘little’ out and back at Turtlehead, I remembered that once, many years ago while training alone I had come up this very hill and found a flock of cedar waxwings swarming a tree. I looked up at the tree again, now perhaps twenty years later, and imagined those birds, their little bodies fliting among the branches, the color on their tails. I remembered how I stood there a long time watching them way back then. And I noticed birds flitting among the same trees, though my eyesight is much worse now than it was then, so I thought today’s birds were sparrows.

Until I got closer and heard the little snuffling tweets they made as they flew back and forth.

Such delicate little blue bell type flowers.

Could it be? Not possible! But yes, up in the top of the trees was a flock of cedar waxwings, yellow band on their tails the tell-tale sign. I had to laugh out loud, though to be honest, crawling up a hill in mile 7 of a ten mile run is not generally a time I spend a lot of time laughing.

I guess sometimes you can conjure up memories and make them real if you give your mind free reign.

Proof summer is sliding at an alarming pace into fall.

Anyway, I saw lots of things on this run, the pictures here are all taken with my phone, often while I was still moving. They aren’t great photogenically, but they tell you the story of a (very) long run during a grey, foggy morning, at my favorite park.

And I’m very very glad it’s done.

Hiding among the reeds to avoid the paparazzi.


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Smile of the week.

When I got home from the latest camping trip this week I noticed the zinnia garden in the back yard was in full bloom.

Our little zinnia patch in full bloom.

Can’t frown around a big ole patch of zinnias, in fact every time I notice them out there I break out into a great big smile.

Brilliant color makes me smile.

What made you smile this week? Write a post, link it to Trent’s and join a merry band of smiling people from all over!


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Some of my favorites

I’ve been camping, two different camp sites, six nights total. My goal was to figure out more about night sky photography…

This is at the top of a very long, very steep sand dune. There are signs at the top warning people not to run down because it’s so difficult to get back up. There’s a $3,000 fee to get rescued. Still, a whole cross country running team was climbing back up when I was there.

…but of course I didn’t sit around all day just waiting for it to get dark.

I saw lots of pretty stuff way up in northern Michigan. I took fewer photos than I would normally because I was looking for things I hadn’t shot before.

On a quick hike in the tip of Michigan’s little finger the sun hit these maple leaves and mesmerized me.

Sill….sometimes I couldn’t help myself, even if I’d seen it, shot it, and filed it before.

But today I think I’ll just share with you my four favorite images from this trip.

The tart cherry trees are still heavy with ripe fruit. I caught these red coated trees, standing with military precision, and had to go back for this shot. I walked down a long farmer’s lane, hoping not to get kicked off his land, and as I got halfway to my target I found a field filed with wildflowers. So I pushed my way into the middle of that field and shot the flowers in front of the trees. This image made me smile really wide, even before I saw it on a larger screen.

None of them were the image I was hoping to get, but that’s still out there and I’ll try again.

One evening I went up to the Mackinaw Bridge. I hadn’t been successful getting the stars, so I figured I’d concentrate on the bridge lit up. It was a wonderful evening. This was 15 seconds, F22, ISO 100.

That’s one of the fun things about photography, there’s always something more to accomplish.

My campsite at the Pigeon River Forest. I was too scared to wander away from my tent at night. But it was pretty there too.


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Still smiling

Trent coordinates a smile a week blog post, asking people to share something that’s made them smile each week.

Well, currently I’m in one of my happy places.

Pt. Betsie on a windy wet afternoon.

And it sure makes me smile.

The Coast Guard on patrol.

What made you smile this week? Post about it and link up to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap on Monday.

Lots to smile about this week!


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Trying to find the night sky. Again.

I’m ‘up north’ and the sky is clear and the air is warm and the bugs aren’t bad. Perfect to head out and try to learn more about shooting stars. And there might even be a few shooting stars to boot!

The little lake was calm with families waiting for the sunset on the protected beach away from the big lake.

I went out to North Bar Lake, a place a photographer told me about years ago. I’ve been there a couple of times since, and I figured it might be the perfect place to watch the stars.

I got there way too early, but walked out on the beach anyway, trying to scope out a spot for sunset and star viewing.

Someone’s castle, left from earlier in the day.

There wasn’t much beach to speak off, the Great Lakes are high this year, but I’m not complaining, it feels good to see the lakes full.

Not a lot of sandy beach, but enough to enjoy.

Once I figured out there wasn’t any one particular spot I’d want to be I headed back to the car to read for awhile.

The stairs glow with late afternoon sun.

And then an hour or so later I dragged my towel, camera bag and tripod back out and walked way down the beach away from all the families and groups of kids with their bonfires and set up shop.

The last of the daylight shimmers.

It wasn’t much of anything, last night’s sunset. But it gave me plenty of time to play around, trying to figure stuff out.

Typical sunset pinks up the sky.

Like how to slow down the movement of water.

Add a bit of time to that shutter speed and smooth out the rough edges.

And how to make the most out of that time just after the sun goes down. The pink sky.

Still waiting for those stars.

The blue air.

The blue hour, Lake Michigan style.

But the darn moon, only half a moon at that, was just way too bright.

Moonlight on the big lake.

I tried, because I was getting tired of waiting, to capture the big dipper. Just to see what this camera can do.

Really, the big dipper is in there. Promise.

And then I focused for a minute or two on the group of college kids up the beach and their bonfire.

Don’t know what happened here, but it’s kind of cool, so I’m keeping it.

By 11:15 I was so tired, sitting on the sand, looking for anything to take a picture of, the stars not really showing yet. I finally packed up and headed back to the car, checking along the way for things to shoot.

Can you see the tree and the stars and the fence?

I liked the old tree and the big dipper behind it. Not exactly why I was out there, but still pretty cool.

I sat on the little beach and captured the moon and the kids’ bonfire. And then I headed back to camp.

Can you see the bonfire out there, to the left and lower than the moon?

An hour later, pulling into the campground, the moon was setting, a bright orange crescent putting out much less light. And at my site, almost 12:30 in the morning, there were a ton of stars overhead.

No pictures of any of that…but you can imagine my frustration. And so the quest continues for another night.

A failure, but a fun failure.


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We have babies!

There are two bluebird boxes in our yard. Last spring I cleaned out one of them, but hadn’t gotten to the other one when I noticed bluebirds checking it out, so I left it alone. Turns out the bluebirds went with other options and I sadly acknowledged that we didn’t have any tenants this year.

Warning off the human intruder.

Well, I guess I haven’t been paying attention.

For the past couple of days, whenever I wandered around the backyard there would rise up noisy, agitated chatter from the fringes of the yard. Somewhere up in the oak tree, or over in the hydrangea bush was an angry bird, but I could never quite find it.

Everybody OK in there?

Well, this morning I figured out most of the noise was coming from the bluebird house, the one I never got around to cleaning out. A house wren soon swooped up to sit on the roof and tell me off. I retreated to find my camera while she fed her babies who were screaming for their breakfast.

Heading out to gather more insects.

Once outside with my camera I hid in a tree far away and watched mom and dad fly in with insects for the hungry crew. I don’t know how many babies they have, but in this next shot you can see one of the little ones inside.

Click on this to make it larger so you can see inside the nest box.

My new Michigan bird book says they have two broods a year; this is probably the second and last. I’m guessing they had a batch while we were off traveling earlier in the summer. I’m so happy at least one of our rentals had occupants this summer. I think the world could use a few more wrens and I wish our happy brood success as they venture out into it.

It’s hard work being a parent.

Good luck little ones, it was an honor to be your landlord!

Don’t make me come in there!